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HAZRAT SYED IMAM ALI SHAH R.A.
By Prof. Munawar Hussain

The great Hazrat Aboul Barkat Imam Ali Shah was borne at Rattar Chattar in 1212 A.H. His birthplace is presently known as Makkah Sharif. His father, Syed Haider Ali Shah was a herbal physician (Tabeeb). He was yet a child when he lost the benign shelter of his father. He received his basic religious education from Moulana Faqeer Allah Din Koti and was trained in his ancestral field of medication by Hafiz Muhammad Raza and Moulana Noor Muhammad Chishti. He was very intelligent and he surpassed his fellow students in every discipline. However, from his very child-hood, he possessed a sensitive nature and was inclined towards poetry. Even during the days, when he as a student, he could compose verses with felicity and ease.

In those days when he was quite young, he happened to visit the holy shrine of Hazrat Baba Fareed Gunj-e-Shakr where he met a fortune-teller who, by dint of his knowledge of physiognomy, read the promising signs of saintlihood on the face of the young saint and predicted: "This lad will command a sublime position in future and will be favoured by an elderly person of his family."  Hazrat Sahib became anxious on hearing this prophecy and tried to visualize that particular person of his family, who was destined to lead and guide him on the Divine Path. In this respect, faces of all the members of his family flashed across his mind but he could not identify that special personality.

That special personality was that of Syed Hussain Shah who was the pride of his family. As the Providence had already set it. Hazarat Imam Ali , soon met his spiritual godfather who, at once, noticed the brilliance radiating from his blessed face and asked him, "My boy, which book do you read?". Before Hazrat Imam Ali Shah could manage an answer, Shah Sahib advised him. "You should read "Masnavi of Moulana Room. Its reading will benefit you a lot. It will reform your deeds, enlighten your heart and enrich your soul". This was the lesson that Syed Hussain Shah taught to the young boy who was going to occupy a prominent position as a spiritual leader of excellence among the Muslim saints. According to a tradition, the Holy Prophet Sallalho Alyho Wasalam had given special instructions to Hazrat Syed Hussain  regarding the training and spiritual upbringing of Hazrat Imam Ali Shah

Next day Hazrat Syed Hussain Shah  called him and explained to him a few verses of the "Masnavi Shrif". The words of his teacher stirred the very heart of Hazrat Ali Shah The very first lesson produced in him a great desire and urge to learn more of it. His interest rose to such a pitch that he started regular readings of the book. Whereas he proved himself a devoted student, his teacher, too, was not less devoted.The method of teaching of Hazrat Shah Sahib was superb. The manner in which he explained the difficult verses of the "Masnavi" was matchless and unique. When he spoke, the listeners were charmed and infatuated by the spell of his beautiful oration.

The more Hazrat Imam Ali Shah learnt from Syed Hussain Shah the more he was inspired by his great and sublime personality. Hazrat Imam Ali Shah himself narrated that once, during his education, he had to visit Hafiz Mahood at Jehlum, along-with Hazrat Shah Sahib He witnessed strange phenomenon at the meeting of the two great personalities of that time. People from the surrounding areas were present to show their allegiance to Hafiz Sahib. Hazrat Imam Ali Shah also requested him to shower his spiritual blessings upon him. At this Hazrat Hafiz Mahmood said, "Allah will bless you with the love of your mentor". In fact, he was referring to Hazrat Syed Hussain Shah Hazrat Imam Ali Shah said: "From that day, my heart was filled with love of and affection for my mentor. When we returned, I requested my mentor to grant me asylum in his spiritual regime. He was gracious enough to accede to my humble request and admitted me to his spiritual circle. He advised me to indulge in "ZIKAR" (remembrance of Allah).

Within a short span of time, by virtue of of his own diligence and hard work, and by the special attention with which his mentor treated him, he rose to such an eminence of spiritual status for which divine seekers endeavour for many years. Allah had blessed him with such miraculous powers as could purge the hearts of astray men at a single glance. He used to stay at the bank of a pond called "Dholi Dhab" for many consecutive nights. The pond was far from human habitation and was an ideal place for meditation and contemplation. He faithfully followed the routine, which his mentor had prescribed for him, throughout his life. He had a great respect for his mentor and held him in high esteem and reverence. He left no stone unturned to rise to the expectations of his mentor and served him to the best of his capacity. His love for his mentor had implanted in him a rare and special kind of humility as well. He crossed all limits in expressing this humility. He himself used to collect the excrement of his mentor as well as that of his horse in an earthen pot, carry it on his head and dispose it of into the river. This, indeed exhibited the humblest expression of his love and respect for his mentor. This is why Syed Hussain Shah had a great regard for him and held him very dear. Allah had bestowed upon him many blessings and a beam of light always sparkled on his face.

Even after the demise of his mentor, Hazrat Imam Ali Shah  kept the sentiment alive. A famous incident happened in his family. Once he got annoyed with his son Sahibzada Sadiq Ali Shah Sahib on some thing. All the well-wishers tried to resolve the matter but in vain. At last the Sahibzada made a request to God at the tomb of Hazrat Syed Hussain Shah in the following manner: "If a father gets annoyed with a son, the latter has no place in the whole world to resort to. My father is not only my parent but also my spiritual guide. For God's sake, help me in my predicament and helplessness". When Hazrat Imam Ali Shah learnt of it, he called his son and asked. "What appeal have you made to Hazrat Hussain Shah ?. The Sahibzada replied, "The secret is open to you". Hazrat Imam Ali Shah , at once mellowed down and said." Since you have approached the higher court, I forgive you".

It is said that Hazrat Shah Hussain had permitted Hazrat Imam Ali Shah even during his lifetime, to take oath of allegiance from those people who were anxious to enter his spiritual circle. After the grant of this permission, he promoted the Naqshbandia School of Spiritual Order a great deal. A brief account of the valuable places of advice that he gave to his disciples is given as under:

Emphasizing the respect of mentor he said: "A 'Mureed'  (follower) must cherish respect from his mentor to such a degree that, so long as he is present in his company, he should not speak without his permission; should not daringly make an eye to eye contact with him. He should prefer his mentor to all other things in the world. "Treeqat" is, in fact, just another name for respect. A disrespectful person remains deprived of the blessings of his world as well as those of the hereafter".

At another point he said: "Be all ears to listen to what your mentor says because to hear his advice is better than to read thousands of books. Perform whole-heartedly what your mentor enjoins you to do."

Defining the word, 'Mureed' (disciple) he said; "A 'Mureed' is one whose carnal of desires have been burnt down by the fire of Divine Love. When he gets up in the morning, tears flow from his eyes on account of sorrow and regret at the life he has wasted. He is humble and un-resourceful. He feels sad at his past sins and aspires for Divine favour in future. He is time-bound for deeds upright and bears all hardships with patience. He always confesses his fault and is a candidate for the forgiveness of Allah. He does not waste away even a single breath without remembering Allah; rather at every breath, he thinks that he is taking his last breath". Regarding spiritual benefits he said: "The bounties and blessings that descend upon a mentor also descend upon the follower, but a follower can not get benefit directly from the Divine Court because four basic elements of his existence and his carnal desires obstruct his exaltation. Since a mentor is free from these shackles, and remains attached to Allah Almighty; therefore a follower can also get benefit from his mentor." He further said: "Repent is such a manner that you may never think of committing a any sin again".

Describing the merits of 'ZIKR' "There are innumerable benefits of "ZIKR'. The heart of a person, who remembers Allah and remains busy in 'ZIKR', leaves no space in it for any other thing except Allah. That is why every object in this world is in his control".

Talking of Spiritual maladies, he said: "Allah Almighty disapproves that the followers of the beloved Prophet Sallalaho Alyhe Waslam may be condemned in any way (as earlier people were condemned). However, those, who do not fear or do not obey Allah are condemned for they blacken their hearts and do not refrain from sin'.

He advised his followers that they should never become idle. They should always remain busy in work and contented with their lot, and cherish the belief that God is the Sustainer and that He alone provides food to His creatures under all circumstances. However, it is impossible to get more than their due share. Therefore they should not disobey Almighty Allah by making complaints because disobedience causes damage in this world as well as in the hereafter.

Allah Almighty had especially blessed and gifted Hazrat Imam Ali Shah with two great qualities which he had acquired by dint of his great obedience to the Holy Prophet Sallalaho Alyhe Wasalam. One of the quality was his healing look and the other one was his brilliant fact. Many non-Muslims embraced Islam at his hands and many misled Muslims reformed themselves and got the real spirit of the Faith. Such was a little show of the stupendous miraculous powers he possessed.

It is that sick people got rid of their illness at his hands. Once a Sikh, who was a chronic patient of paralysis was brought for Hazrat Sahib. As soon as the patient had a look at the glowing face of the great saint he got up, embraced Islam, remained in his company throughout his life as a servant. It is stated that even in the season of winter, the said person used cold drinks in order to keep himself normal. He used to say: "Since the day Hazrat Sahib has cast his benign and kind glance at me, nothing soothes me down except cold drinks. It seems as if my whole body is on fire". Many lepers got rid of their disease by applying to their bodies, the wasted water used by him for ablution. Once a man brought his only son, who was blind, to Hazrat Sahib and requested him to help the boy, Hazrat Sahib put a little saliva into the eyes of the blind boy and prayed for him. In a couple of visits, the eyesight of the blind boy was restored.

This account of Hazrat Imam Ali Shah's spiritual perfection and miraculous powers will remain incomplete if we fail to mention his highly appreciated and lovable book "Mura-tul-Mohaqqeen". The book is in the Persian language and is reckoned as a masterpiece of brevity and concision. It depicts the artistic qualities of the author in a superb manner. It has been written in such a captivating and attractive style that one likes to read it time and again. The book has been divided into two parts. Its first part deals with the life history of Hazrat Shahbaz-e-Toheed Hussain Shah, while its second part consists of the sayings and quotations of Hazrat Imam Ali Shah In the following extract Hazrat Sahib has explained how we can get rid of the charms and attractions of this moral world. He says:

All material things that exist in this world impress the human heats very much and the impression is like a screen or veil between man and his Master. This impression gets deeper into the heart of man by adopting bad company, by seeing colorful shapes of different things and by indulging in idle pursuits. Therefore, to wipe out this impression, man should strive to get away from them. The other thing that strengthens this impression is the study of immoral books and man's participation in musical gatherings and idle talks. All these things widen the distance between man and Allah Almighty. It is, therefore, necessary to shun them and to become attentive towards Allah. Only then man can get his heart purified. The purification of the heart can not be achieved without giving up carnal desires and without negating physical demands."

At another place he says: "Let it be known to man that the real comfort lies in heaven. So, he should bear the hardships of this world where his stay is only for a few days so that he may find eternal peace and comfort in the next world. In all cases, whatsoever, he should follow the examples set by his forefathers in religion. He should always offer his regular prayers in congregation (JAMAT) and acquire the knowledge of Hadith. He should not run after popularity and worldly fame as these things cause a great trouble. He should not be proud of having a high rank; rather should spend his days in anonymity."

In his last days Hazrat Sahib fell ill. He breathed his last on 14th Shawal 1282 A.H. and embarked on his way to heaven. He was buried at Ratat Chatar (Makan Sharif India). He is spiritually alive till today and his valuable teachings will remain a source of guidance for the seekers of truth for all times to come. After his demise his son, Sahibzada Sadiq Ali Shah, succeeded him.

REFERENCE

Khazina-e-Marfat by M. Ibrahim Kasuri, Sher-e-Rabbani Number Monthly Noor-e-Islam Sharqpur Sharif by Sahibzada Mian Jamil Ahmed Sharqpuri Naqshbanid

Note: Above matter extracted from Sher-e-Rabbani Digest.


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